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Players suspended after bench-clearing brawl at Kansas-Kansas State basketball game

The fight started after now-suspended Silvio De Sousa of the University of Kansas blocked an opponent's shot and then glared him down.
Image: Kansas State v Kansas
Silvio De Sousa of the University of Kansas Jayhawks picks up a chair during a brawl as a game against the Kansas State University Wildcats ends in Lawrence, Kan., on Tuesday night. Jamie Squire / Getty Images

A basketball game between the University of Kansas and Kansas State University ended in a bench-clearing brawl Tuesday night.

The fight between the in-state rivals erupted after a Kansas player blocked a shot by a Kansas State player, sending the player to the floor, at the end of Kansas' 81-60 win at home in Lawrence.

Punches were thrown, and officials tried to separate players on the court at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Big 12 Conference suspended four players for a total of 25 games, two from each team, the conference said Wednesday. Both sports programs were also reprimanded for violating conference sportsmanship policies.

"This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and these suspensions reflect the severity of last evening’s events," Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in statement.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa was suspended 12 games. He threw a punch and picked up a stool during the chaos.

Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement earlier Wednesday that De Sousa was suspended indefinitely pending a review by the university and the Big 12 Conference. "As I said last night, we are disappointed in his actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior," Self said.

Jayhawk David McCormack was suspended two games. From Kansas State, James Love was suspended eight games, and Antonio Gordon, three, the Big 12 Conference said.

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Image: Kansas State vs Kansas
Silvio De Sousa of the University of Kansas Jayhawks (No. 22) and James Love III of the Kansas State University Wildcats exchange blows during a brawl after the teams' game at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, on Tuesday.Jamie Squire / Getty Images

As the fight broke out, De Sousa threw a punch and grabbed a stool.

Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard grabbed the stool from behind after De Sousa picked it up over his head.

Self, who called the fight an "embarrassment" Tuesday night, said he was shaking the opposing coach's hand when the brawl erupted and did not see what happened until people rushed onto the court.

"Obviously, it’s an embarrassment,” Self said. “It’s not something to be proud of. What happened showed zero signs of toughness. It’s a sign of immaturity and selfishness more so than toughness. If I was a fan watching, depending on your perspective, there would be nothing about that intriguing me to watch more.”

Kansas' director of athletics, Jeff Long, said Tuesday night that the behavior was "simply unacceptable and not reflective of who we are."

He apologized to the Big 12 conference; Kansas State, its coach, Bruce Weber, and athletic director, Gene Taylor; and all fans "for the lack of sportsmanship from members of our team this evening."

The Jayhawks were dribbling out the clock when De Sousa was stripped of the ball by Kansas State's DaJuan Gordon near midcourt. Gordon tried to go for a layup, but De Sousa recovered to block the shot and send Gordon sprawling. He then stood over Gordon and barked at him.

Several Kansas State players left their bench to challenge De Sousa, including inactive Wildcats reserve James Love, who was in street clothes.

Both coaches said their teams bore some responsibility for the brouhaha.

Weber said he told his Kansas State players to back off and allow Kansas to run out the final seconds of a decisive Jayhawks victory.

"I had told them not to press, not to foul," Weber said. "I had told them to back off, but the kids are young guys. They want to play hard. They were disappointed, frustrated."

But Self said the opposing Wildcats had no obligation to quit playing, and faulted his Jayhawks for being angry that Kansas State competed until the final horn.

"Silvio knew he was being defended,” Self said. “He took his ball, and certainly the way Silvio reacted to getting his ball taken, going and blocking his shot, that’s fair game. What transpired after that is what set everything off.”

No. 3 Kansas improved to 15-3 overall and 5-1 in the Big 12 Conference. Kansas State fell to 8-10 and 1-5 in conference play. The teams will meet again at the end of February.